How to Use the Tallit in Your Devotions
How to Use the Tallit (Prayer Shawl) and How the Believer Could Incorporate it Into their Devotions as Part of God’s Word
Wearing the Tallit has been an age old tradition in the Jewish faith. Since the time of Moses, the Israelites are presumed to wear coverings on their heads and shoulders which are traditionally identified as the Tallit. On the hem of the Prayer Shawl are also a number of tassels or Tzitzit which is expressly commanded by God in the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy.
The Tallit is used as a physical manifestation of a person's devotion and wholehearted submission to God and His will. On the other hand, the Tzitzit that are attached to the Tallit is a physical reminder of the mitzvah and the obligation of God’s people to obey it. Though the Tallit has been used for ages, believers today can still benefit from it by using it and incorporating it into their devotions. Here are some concepts that are related to the use of Tallit:
1. When to use the Tallit
Though not expressly included in the Scriptures, the traditional Jewish leaders and rabbis have prescribed rules on the core regulations on using the Tallit. One of the things that a person must know is when to use the Tallit.
The Tallit is usually worn during the morning services on weekdays; it is also worn on Sabbaths and different holidays. However, when it is the evening prayers during the Sabbath and holidays, only the prayer leader is required to wear the Tallit.
Also, the Tallit is typically worn during the morning. This tradition could signify the protection from the sun that the Tallit can provide for ancient people in the Middle East. Also, the tradition to wear it during the day stems from the command of God in the Torah where the purpose of the Tzitzit is to remind His people of the Mosaic Law. During the day, the Tzitzit is entirely visible thus the tradition of wearing the Tallit in day time. However, at Yom Kippur, the Tallit is also worn in the evening services because of the great holiness of the day.
Prayer Shawls are available for visitors in most Jewish synagogues; however, most people prefer to buy their own Tallit. You can also incorporate the Tallit when praying privately; however, you need to make sure that you follow the prescribed way of donning it as well as the benedictions that are being recited before and after wearing the Tallit.
2. How to wear the Tallit
There are various instances when someone will be required to wear the Tallit. However, it is also important for an individual to learn the proper way of donning the Tallit including the prescribed laws in doing so.
First, particular benedictions are being used during certain phases of using the Tallit. First is before donning the Prayer Shawl. The custom is to hold the Tallit in front of you. The neckpiece with the inscribed benediction should also be facing you, so you will be able to recite the blessings written on it.
“Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God, King of the universe,
Who hast sanctified us by Thy commandments,
And hast commanded us to wrap ourselves in the fringed garment.”
Blessing when donning the Tallit
After a heartfelt prayer of benediction, kiss the corners of the neckpiece then place the Tallit over your head and then to your shoulders. Upon donning the Tallit, prayerfully say again the benediction above. Lastly, after putting on the Tallit, an individual might also recite the following scriptural blessing found in the Scriptures:
You are clothed in glory and majesty, wrapped in robe of light;
You spread the heavens like a tent cloth.” (Psalm 104:1 – 2)
If you incorporate the Tallit in your personal devotion, then make sure that you follow the prescribed ways of wearing it. Also, recite the blessings from the heart, and if possible, learn to recite it using the Hebrew language.
3. Other customs and rules in wearing the Tallit
Same with other religious artifacts, there are also a lot of commands surrounding the proper use of the Tallit whether it’s private or in public worship. Remember the following custom traditions, in order to show utmost respect to God and also to the people around you.
Do not wear a Tallit when entering the bathroom. Wearing the Talllit while using the restroom is a great disrespect since the Tallit has a portion of the Holy Words written in it.
When a person is called to read the Torah, a corner of the Tallit is put on the first word of the portion of the readings. It will then be subsequently removed and kissed to show reverence to the Law.
When borrowing a Tallit from the synagogue, don’t forget to recite the blessings.
There are Jewish sects that require a bridegroom to wear a Tallit during the wedding ceremonies.
Tallit should receive utmost care by keeping it in special bags, which are usually of ornamented velvet, when it is not being used.
If you need to remove the Tallit for a short time and don it again immediately, you don't need to recite the benediction prayer again.
Don’t Forget the Heart
Though there are a lot of regulations and customs surrounding the use of the Tallit, we must not forget that the most important part of every tradition is the heart of a true worshipper. Do not just follow the customs for the sake of conforming to what the norm says; you must always do everything with the attitude of a true worshipper whether it is in private or public time with God.